Tamar-kali Rocks Pariah

Afro-punk star brings her unique sound to Pariah.

Tamar-kali may hail from Brooklyn, but her influences are global. Born Tamara Colletta Brown, this New York musician added the name Kali, the Hindu deity associated with death, war and eternal energy, to show that she means business. The daughter of a musician, Tamar-kali followed a range of musical styles growing up, from folk to punk. It was the later that ultimately helped shape her personal style and direction, a vibe she brings to Dee Rees’ Pariah.

She told the Wall Street Journal online in 2010: "I began going to hard-core matinees at CBGB's…There would be punk bands, ska, reggae and other styles." But more than just picking up on punk style, Tamar-kali found in punk a spirit of independence that spoke to her and her work: "Punk at its core has a do-it-yourself aesthetic that lets you call the shots.” 

And Tamar-kali has been calling the shots in her music and musical projects. Her recently released album Black Bottom is a powerful expression of her self and struggles. In his review for Racialicious.com, Rob Fields exclaims: “Like Tina Turner, you get the feeling from listening to Tamar-kali’s debut album Black Bottom that she never did anything nice and easy. But it’s that struggle she articulates to come into her own that has helped Tamar-kali create Black Bottom, and the result is an exhilarating, cathartic rock n roll tour de force.” 

For Pariah, Tamar-kali contributed three songs, as well as performing on camera in the film. Producer Nekisa Cooper and director Dee Rees were first introduced to the performer by their dp Brad Young, who “played the track "Boot" for us when he was visiting CA and we loved it! We were looking to incorporate rock into the soundtrack as the voice of the love interest, Bina, and really interested in getting to know women of color in the punk and rock scene.” Here is a video of “Boot” to let you hear what inspired the Pariah’s filmmakers.